I have currently been awake for the past 38 hours! I am sleep deprived but I am still on cloud 9 and wide awake as I sit here and write.
Last night around 9pm as Bali cooled down and people started to retire for the night, we were picked up and driven 2 hours to the base of a volcano- Mt. Agung, the most holy of mountains in Bali. It is believed to give life to Bali and provide everything needed for the Balinese people. We arrived at the base of this mountain (900 meters above sea level) and started our ascent around 11 pm. The goal was to hike up the volcano and reach the summit by 6am for the sunrise. We hiked in complete darkness, with our headlamps illuminating only the path directly in front of us. It was a steep and painful ascent, one step in front of the other. About a mile up the trail it leveled out and we were relieved to have a calf break from the uphill stress. As we left our short flat section of the trail to hike up once again Justin made a comment "I bet it will level out once we crest this hill" But it didn't. It continued to be uphill for the rest of the strenuous step by step, by slide down trail. It went up for 7 hours! The trail at some points became so demanding that we would slide back down after stepping on the steep volcanic rock that slid quickly beneath your feet. Grabbing onto the roots and vines of the trees to use as a rope to heave yourself up a steep section hoping you wouldn't break the branch and plummet into your friends below. After a few breaks and a lot of water we rested for a long time below the summit. It was 3:30 am and we had hiked the volcano at a much quicker pace than our guide anticipated. We took a rest near a small cave and tried to sleep for a little bit before our final hour summit push to reach the sunset. Freezing and shivering with every layer that I brought it was still not difficult to fall asleep for 20 min. To my surprise when I awoke another group had reached us and we were starting a fire. Thank god!! It was so cold and the fire was so warm.
After a little time to warm up we pushed for the summit sad to leave the heat of the fire. It was amazing to be hiking this volcano as the moon went down and the sun began to light the sky. It started with a bit of orange that hit the clouds that pillowed up on the roof of the sky which danced with the last light of the stars. The clouds looked as if I could jump off the top of the volcano and swan dive into the plush soft layers of fluff. As the sky warmed up more they gave view to the island volcanos that surrounded us. We could see the tops of volcanos as far away as Java Island. The top peaking out to us to say hello.
Sitting at the top of a volcano watching the sunrise is something that makes you gain a sense of perspective on the world and how small you are in it.
After watching the world come to life on top of the volcano as the sun creased the horizon we sat with our cup of coffee and cookies (we were supposed to get breakfast 🙁 We said goodbye and see you again to the top of the world and headed back down the volcano.
It was a grueling 4 hours of consistent knee jolting, hip crushing downhill hiking. It hurt so bad as we descended taking every step carefully so that we didn't slide on the volcanic rock that felt like marbles on a slick surface below our feet. Each step took all of our concentration and more mental and physical power than we could muster after being awake now for 24 hours. We asked our guide how much further when we thought we were half way back and his answer was 4 hours. We moaned and groaned and couldn't believe that we still could have so far to go after 2 hours of descending. We asked again about an hour later and the answer was the same. "4 hours." What!! We asked again shortly later… the answer, you guessed it "4 hours" Now we just laughed every time we asked about the time. We no longer wanted to cry because we knew it could not be another 4 hours. (We decided people of Bali have no idea what time is, it may even be worse than in India) Our guide also said we walk so slowly as he would run down the mountain and wait for us to crawl down. At one point, as my hips and knees were on fire, I decided to start running down with him to hopefully avoid falling on my ass like I had been, it couldn't go much worse. It seemed to work well, for some reason when you run on marbles you dont slip as much. So Darja and I ran the last 30 minutes down the mountain with our guide who was laughing at us the whole way as we waved our arms like chickens to try to keep our balance as we ran down the mountain. Finally we reached the bottom right before the skies opened up and began to pour. What an accomplishment! What an adventure!